I'd never visited Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire before and t'interwebz assured me there was a "Heritage Trail" around the town so I came, I saw, and I flanned. Indeed, I committed June challenge flan II(c) "local council walk" twice over because the same Historic Tewkesbury leaflet also included an Alleyways Trail and as I've never done an official alley tour before I managed to fit that in too. I walked the Heritage Trail first but out of order and breaking off in the middle to extend my walk to a memorable sculpture on the outskirts of town. I then completed the Alleyways Trail backwards but failed to find one alley so I did some of the zig-zags by zagging when I should've zigged and zigging when I should've zagged. The order of the day was 1, 2, 10, 12, 13, 14, 11, 9, 8, 7, 8, [diversion to Margaret's Camp (medieval moated site named for Margaret of Anjou), The Arrivall (sculpture), Bloody Meadow (1471 War of the Roses battlefield)], 5, 6, M, L, 4, 3, K, [couldn't find J], I, H, G, F, 16, 15, E, D, C, A, and lastly B. A less casual navigator than myself could combine both trails in a single walk. The leaflet is unusually well written, with a brief paragraph for various points of interest, and made the walk much more enjoyable. My favourite discoveries were the many odd signs, some historic, some artistic, and some comedic, although it's occasionally difficult for an outsider to determine which signs belong to which categories. I was clueless about whether the several cat themed plaques in the alleys were history or art or both, and which of the Shakespeare family signs were truth or fiction, and whether a railway heritage plaque was in the correct place, but even I recognised that parts of the "history" celebrated on a Victorian obelisk varied between unlikely and impossible, lol. In conclusion: I found Tewkesbury charming, quirky, and not quite what it might seem.
Ye Olde Black Bear Inn was reputedly Gloucestershire's oldest pub... until it closed recently, although Tewkesbury has many other historic pubs in the town centre including a Wetherspoons which combines full disabled access, through the old coaching doors, with ceilings inside so low that tall men have to duck their heads.
( 10 more small images. )
The Arrivall is a monumental sculpture created to commemorate the Battle of Tewkesbury, 1471, one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses, which took place nearby including on the aptly named Bloody Meadow. This half is called Vanquished.
19.A song that makes you think about life
Rizzo's story is sadly overlooked in many productions of Grease, perhaps because this song is the only time that any of it is directly expressed (although it's very much there in the film, if one looks for it in her expressions and tones of voice) - but she's perhaps the only character who understands the whole game that everybody is playing, and conciously chooses how much to engage.
London Underground is to increase investment in cleaning the tube tunnels of their dirt and dust – not for cosmetic reasons, but because we tend to breath it in and that might not be good for our health.
As it happens, in 2004 a study was carried out into the dust in the tube tunnels, and found that while the composition of dust particles on the Tube was different from that above ground, they also concluded that the dust did not contain components at levels which are likely to pose a risk to the health of passengers or staff.
The biggest issue on the tube is ferric particles, that come from the braking of the trains as they approach stations. The black iron particles look bad, especially if you blow your nose after a long day working on the Underground, but they are not harmful in any significant way. The particles are simply too large to get anywhere in the body that’s damaging, unlike say the PM10 and smaller particles belching out of road vehicle exhausts, which can cause long term health problems.
In addition to the iron dust, there is of course, the dead skin and hair shed by the more than a billion passenger journeys carried by the Underground each year.
The Mayor has now ordered a fresh study to see if the situation on the tube has changed since the last report more than a decade ago.
While the tube is unlikely to have changed much, increased ventilation means more surface dust may being drawn down into the tunnels.
In the meantime, more is to be spent cleaning the tube as it is today.
Over the summer nearly 50 stations and five tunnel sections will be cleaned, with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic ‘wands’ being used each night in tunnels.
These will collect metal particles and ensure tunnel walls are left clear of accumulations of dust, oil and grease. Air quality monitoring will be carried out at these new locations before and after cleaning to ensure it is effective, with the results informing the frequency of future cleaning programmes. This enhanced regime will work alongside TfL’s current regular deep cleaning of every line, vent shaft, station, machine room and switch room across the Tube network.
TfL will also be exploring and expanding the use of specialist dust suppressants across the network. These are already used at some locations where dust is more common, and are now being considered for more widespread use.
Attempts to clean the air on the Underground are not new, not just for passenger health, but dirt build up damages equipment, and hence reduces the reliability of the train service.
Fluffers, the people who clean the tunnels are a long standing tradition, and there was a short lived experiment with white washing the tunnels, in past to wash off the dirt, and in part to brighten them up.
Over the years, various ways have been tried to improve how the tunnels are cleaned.
In 1976, a dedicated cleaning train was developed. An old 1938 era tube train was converted into a massive vacuum cleaner that could be driven down the tunnels to suck away the dust.
Unfortunately, although it could clean tunnels, it broke down a lot, and it sometimes disturbed dust, but failed to collect it. There has been talk of developing a better version, based on some old Victoria line trains, but that plan was put on hold earlier this year.
The sea-like smell then made some passengers feel sea sick, so it was stopped fairly quickly.
We’re unlikely to see similar ideas again.
Stratford's gyratory system is currently one-way, but Newham council have plans to make it two-way.
They launched a consultation last autumn, which I told you all about at the time, asking the general public what they thought of the proposals. 355 members of the public responded, and 93% were in favour, which means the plans are going ahead. Here's the consultation leaflet, if you want to see a map of the new road layout.
As well as introducing a two-way traffic system by spring 2019, Newham also intend to introduce road calming measures, separate cycle tracks, wider pedestrian crossings and improved landscaping. They also said TfL would issue a separate consultation to look at how bus routes through Stratford would be affected, and last week TfL were finally able to do just that. The consultation closes on 21st July.
And here's what they're proposing. Simple, huh?
Here's the same map, but I've removed all the red "routes no longer served" (and all the nightbuses).
That's still complicated enough, but let me see what I can unpick for you.
With regards to bus routes...
• Routes 69 and 308 won't be changing.
• Every other bus route is being partially rerouted to follow the same roads in both directions.
• Every bus route except the 69 and 308 will serve Stratford bus station in both directions.
• TfL have made a set of pdf maps to compare all the old and new routes.
With regards to new bus stops...
• Two new bus stops are being added on the inside of the ring road to serve buses travelling anti-clockwise.
• One of these will be opposite the bus station, and will be served by the 158, 241 and 257.
• The other will be near the Picturehouse, and will only be served by the 257.
• Another new stop is being added along Tramway Avenue, so there'll now be stops on both sides.
• The bus station is going to be reconfigured, with a new central loop and fewer stops at the roadside.
With regards to dead bus stops...
• The bus stop round the back of St John's Church will be removed because that bit of Broadway is being pedestrianised. All eastbound buses will stop further back outside the entrance to the Stratford Centre.
• The bus stop on Broadway outside the Town Hall will be removed. All buses will stop further back instead, either opposite the church or just round the corner on Tramway Avenue.
• The bus stop opposite the Theatre Royal will be removed, and the three remaining bus routes will stop further down Great Eastern Road.
And because it's still not entirely obvious what all that means, let me break it down by destination.
25, 425, 276, D8
|No change - all buses will go first to the bus station.||At the moment the best place to catch a bus to Bow is outside the Town Hall, because all four bus routes stop there. In future the best place will be the bus station, for the same reason. Only the 25 and 425 will stop on the Broadway.|
|Buses will go straight to the bus station, first dropping off opposite, then in the bus station itself.||No change - all buses to Leyton will turn left out of the bus station.|
|Buses will turn right at Morrisons and no longer loop round to serve Broadway.||No change - all buses to Leytonstone will turn left out of the bus station.|
25, 86, 425
|Initially the same route, but without a stop outside the Town Hall. All westbound buses will now additionally visit the bus station.||No significant change - buses leaving the bus station will follow Broadway (stopping outside the entrance to the Stratford Centre).|
104, 238, 262, 473, 241
|No change - all buses will stop on Tramway Avenue and then go direct to the bus station.||Buses leaving the bus station will no longer loop round the gyratory but will take the quicker anti-clockwise route. Buses won't stop on Broadway, but at a new stop on Tramway Avenue.|
|The same route as now, but with a detour to the bus station and back. Apparently buses won't stop anywhere in central Stratford except the bus station, which is either madness or somebody's left a dot off the map.||The same route as now, but stopping at a new stop on Tramway Avenue.|
The upshot is...
• Routes will generally be simpler and more direct.
• It's going to be easier to catch a bus to/from Stratford station.
• The bus station's going to be busier, and a more important place for catching buses.
• Far fewer buses will be serving the northeast of the town centre, i.e. outside Morrisons and the library.
In conclusion, I think I understand what's going on only because I've spent the last hour trying to unpick the maps and write the above summary. I wonder how many other people are going to bother, and then submit a response? It's all pretty much a done deal anyway... Newham are changing the roads, so TfL have got to change the buses. And sure, it's a big change, but we'll all get used to it eventually.
(In case a post about bus changes in Stratford was too much for you, there's always four days of writing about Tyneside to catch up on.)
The Metro is Tyneside's light rail system, a knot of lines coiled down the Tyne valley, initially opened in 1980. For a two line system it's oddly complicated - not the Green line which links the airport to Sunderland, but the Yellow. This is like the Circle line on steroids, with a giant northern loop out from Newcastle city centre to The Coast, and a long arm which crosses the river to terminate one mile from a station trains were at one hour earlier. It makes more sense when you're on it.
I struggled to buy a ticket from the machines at a station where the staffed Travel Shop had recently been closed. The Day Saver ticket was hidden down an unexpected route on the menu, so I had to ask the bloke by the barriers for help, then the machine couldn't read my banknote and cancelled the transaction, so I had to ask the bloke by the barriers again. "We're not supposed to come over and help," he said, "because management think the machines are self-explanatory. Also, try pushing your banknote along the left hand edge of the slot." We caught our train eventually, despite management's best efforts, and headed out to enjoy some sights downriver.
Wallsend Metro station is the only public building in Britain with bilingual signs in Latin. Platform 1 is Suggestus 1, potential smokers are warned to Noli Fumare, and even the warning about penalties for ticketless travel has been translated for time-travelling passengers. This unique artwork exists because Hadrian's Wall ended nearby, or at least it did once extended east from Newcastle in 127AD, hence this point marks the edge of the Roman Empire. The site of the former fort of Segedunum is now a tourist attraction, complete with millennial Visitor Centre and airport-style observation tower. Take the lift to the ninth floor to view the footprint of the garrison, and the former site of the Swan Hunter shipyard, and (at present) five giant yellow towers destined to end up as oil rig feet.
Downstairs is a Roman gallery which explains the history of the fort and the civilisation that built it, and explains it well, then you can head outside and walk around. Only a few bits of excavated foundation remain, perhaps not surprisingly given that the site has in its time been part of a colliery and covered by terraced streets. Crossing the main road allows you to see what remains of the last few metres of Hadrian's Wall, which is basically a wiggly line of stones, plus a full-height reconstruction of what it might have looked like. There's also a reconstructed bathhouse with roof problems, sealed off at present, but the admission charge has been reduced by £1 to make up... and £4.95 is quite frankly a bargain.
The paradox of Segedunum is that it's excellent but empty. Despite being a sunny summer Sunday there were no more than a dozen visitors present, and that includes the three who left when we arrived and the four who arrived two hours later on our way out. My hunch is that everybody local who wants to see it has seen it, or has been round on a school trip, and the attraction lacks the gravity to lure wider tourists in. Whatever, a visit to Segedunum comes highly recommended, if nothing else to keep the lovely ladies in the cafe in gainful employment.
There are two 'Shields' at the mouth of the Tyne, one North and one South, the latter being the larger. South Shields also faces the North Sea and has excellent beaches, so is the ideal destination for Tynesiders seeking a coastal retreat in high summer. We joined the crowds on Ocean Road heading to the promenade, passing timewarp guest houses with No Vacancies, a museum proud to be part of Catherine Cookson Country and an indoor pool built for inclement weather. On the other side of the funfair are an enormous stretch of golden sand and some scrappy dunes, liberally scattered with windbreaks, reddened flesh and beach cricket. At the end of one long breakwater is the skeletal Herd Groyne lighthouse, quite the landmark hereabouts, and beyond that another shining strand with rocks for scrambling. London has nothing half as good within easy striking distance.
A few marinas exist but the populace of Tyneside don't generally have the wherewithal to go messing around in boats, so yachts, cruisers and jetskis make only infrequent appearances. Instead the most popular means of water transport is the Shields Ferry, which crosses every half hour from jetties upstream, first operated in 1377 and now with considerably more modern craft. Seasoned commuters sit downstairs, whereas we one-offs can never resist a seat on deck, all the better to compare the modernised shores of South Shields with the historic slopes of North Shields. That and the ruins on the headland at the mouth of the river... which is where we headed next.
Whatever preconceptions southerners might have of Tyneside, Tynemouth shatters them. Its high class Georgian terraces are somewhere Hampstead's residents would feel at home, and the central shopping street (or 'village') is much more Southwold than Southend. The station too is a cut above, a former terminus with a glistening canopied roof (resembling several greenhouses), plus a chic weekend market filling both concourses. The headland is dominated by what's left of Tynemouth Priory and Castle, in prime defensive position at the entrance to the estuary, and sheltered behind is a sandy cove accessed down a not-inconsequential flight of steps.
We queued in baking heat for fish and chips from Marshalls, the Fryery by the Priory, and were not disappointed... except by the "cheesecake in batter" which (of course) turned out to be more slab-of-Kraft then New York vanilla. Had there been more time we'd have explored the beaches to the north, including the nationally-acclaimed sweep of Longsands, the cove at Cullercoats, and ultimately the resort of Whitley Bay. Alas the Metro had other ideas and hiccuped, introducing an hour-long delay, so they'll have to wait. But blimey, Tynesiders are blessed by coastal treats, so easily accessed (most of the time) by train.
My Tyneside gallery
» [Wallsend 5] [South Shields 7] [Tynemouth 8]
» Young travellers will love Metro's little book of things to see (32 page pdf)
TfL is transforming parts of the transport network with a new rainbow design, which has been created to show support for the LGBT+ community, as part of a range of activities taking place this month.
The new design highlighting #loveislove can be seen above the Oxford Street entrance of Tottenham Court Road station and has been incorporated into a number of rainbow roundels at Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus Tube stations.
Anyone hiring a Santander Cycle has the chance to ride on one of the fifty cycles that have been decorated with rainbow livery on their rear mudguards.
As a bit of a data geek, what might be interesting though, is that as the bike hires are tracked, would there be any demographic data that could show up from knowing when a “gay bike” is used and when. For example, do the bikes cluster in Soho and Vauxhall, or do they scatter to the winds and turn up everywhere in the city.
On the day of the Pride parade, TfL will also mark the occasion with rainbow flags at several bus stops, including two in the Charing Cross area which will be kept permanently after the Pride celebrations.
The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.
This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.
( opinions )
Engineer Oluyemisi Ojo from Nigeria, in Porthcurno, Cornwall, 1973, was the first woman engineering student at this Cable and Wireless college.
Engineering students from Vanuatu, Qatar, and Tonga, in Porthcurno, Cornwall, during the 1980s.
( One more small image, and three book reviews. )
four steps forward and three back, and yet nothing
remains the same, for the mountains are piled up
and worn down, for the rivers eat into the stone
and the fields blow away and the sea makes sand
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
This is a series of essays about the experience of being an ethnic minority in the UK. A lot of the ideas were things I'd encountered before, but all presented thoughtfully and engagingly, so it would be a really good starting point for someone who hadn't thought much about race relations to introduce themselves to some of the common ideas and experiences. But there was also a lot that was new to me. Thoughts about representation and tokenism in popular media, about the relationships between generations with different levels of integration, about colourism and casteism, and about the impact on ethnic minority children of growing up learning that stories are about white people.
Seed to Harvest (Wild Seed, Mind of my Mind, Clay's Ark & Patternmaster) by Octavia Butler
This is a collection of four of the five Patternist novels (the fifth is set in the same universe, but I understand doesn't include any of the same characters, and is disliked by the author). These are all exciting and easy to read novels, but other than that and the plot thread that runs between them, they have surprisingly little in common. Wild Seed is alt-history, Mind of my Mind is a near future story about psychic mutants, Clay's Ark is gritty apocalyptic stuff, and Patternmaster is in a distant future that feels more like fantasy than sf. They're all great though - lighter than Kindred, but still packed with ideas about society and hierarchy.
Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe
This book has a phenomenal amount of detail about the anatomy involved in five major lifts - the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and power clean. A fairly tedious read, but one which I hope will make me less likely to injure myself.
Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity by Fr James Martin SJ
I really like Fr James Martin, and his "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything" is one of the best books about life and religion that I've ever read. This is a short book in two parts; first an essay based on a talk about how the Church hierarchy and LGBT Catholics can heal the divide between the two groups, and secondly a series of suggestions of bible passages and questions that LGBT Catholics and their allies might find useful in prayer and reflection. I liked the essay, although more because it echoed a lot of my own thoughts back at me than because I learned much from it. I think that the more traditionalist members of the church could benefit a lot from reading it and taking it to heart. I think that most LGBT people, especially those who aren't Catholic, would find the suggestion that they too need to show respect, compassion and sensitivity towards those in the hierarchy who have hurt and oppressed them quite frustrating. I have a lot of sympathy with that, but ultimately I think that Fr Martin is correct, both because we are called to love all our neighbours, not just those whom it's easy to love, and because I don't think we will see change any other way.
A weekly round-up of London’s rail transport news…
London weather: thermal camera captures heat of Tube on hottest June day since 1976 Standard
A look at Balham tube station’s architecture English Buildings
Tube walkout over ‘clash’ with fare dodger is called off due to new strike laws Standard
TfL Confirm Gap in Croxley Rail Link Funding London Reconnections
Crossrail / Elizabeth Line
First Elizabeth line trains enter passenger service IanVisits
The recent Crossrail documentary on BBC2 is accused of dumbing down. The Engineer
Making the case for Crossrail 2 London Reconnections
Whitehall feud over Crossrail 2: Ministers push back against TfL funding plan for £31bn route CityAM
Tesco lorry hits bridge at Shortlands train station News Shopper
Eurostar’s direct service from London to Amsterdam is not set to stop at Kent stations – for the time being at least – council chiefs confirm. Kent News
New bullet trains bound for Penzance to London route arrive in the UK Cornwall Live
West London suburban network to benefit from £895m order for 90 new 100mph air conditioned trains Get West London
The names of the four companies bidding to run the south eastern rail franchise have been announced. Kent Online
New railway connection to London Luton Airport approved BBC News
Southern Rail should have an East Croydon service taken away as a result of the continuing drivers’ strikes and overtime ban, according to a new report. Local Guardian
East Croydon station could be redeveloped to include an over-station commercial-led scheme which could help fund improvements to the Brighton main line. Property Week (£)
Long before any improvements took place at Paddington station there was an unusual pedestrian route which crossed the tops of the station canopies in order to access the suburban platforms. 1LondonBlog
The boss of the company which runs trams on behalf of TfL has not been paid his £723,415 bonus this year because of the Croydon tram crash. Croydon Advertiser
Reigate teenager who designed ‘dream’ Redhill station thinks the original is poorly designed Surrey Mirror
And finally, More than £6,000 has been raised for a survivor of the Grenfell Tower disaster who worked on Crossrail for Morgan Sindall. Construction News
The image above is from Oct 2012: Take a trip on a miniature steam railway near Heathrow
Train 1 had been scheduled to run four weeks ago, then three weeks ago, and was finally bumped into late June due to operational issues. Its precise timing was a secret, with invitations sent out to company employees, media types and the occasional VIP, in the hope that no People Who Like Trains would appear at Liverpool Street and get in the way. What happened instead, which was rather nice, is that a completely random selection of everyday passengers turned up expecting to board the usual service, and got treated to Crossrail's inaugural run instead.
The general impression of the accidental passengers boarding the train seemed to be "ooh, that's nice." They liked the clean bright interiors, they expressed audible appreciation for the aircon, and they appeared to like the stripy purple moquette. I chatted with Pat and Maureen who were off to Romford, and they were genuinely impressed by the upholstery, the extra legroom, and the fact that nobody had yet rested their feet on the clean seats. "My husband really likes trains," said Pat, "so he'll be amazed when I tell him what I've been on today." Meanwhile Maureen was surprised the trains didn't go any faster, so I had to remind her there are just as many stations to stop at as there were before.
A heck of a lot of the passengers on the first train were staff who had been involved in project management, design or construction. Many had purple lanyards dangling round their necks, and rather smarter office attire than would normally be seen midmorning hereabouts, although one less starchy employee did look out of the window with glee at Forest Gate and exclaim "my local station!" Occasionally a familiar face from the BBC2 Crossrail documentary series wandered past, or sat down in an adjacent seat and gave an interview to a journalist. Even Transport Commissioner Mike Brown strode by, looking rightly proud. The ratio of suits and media to ordinary passengers was somewhat lower on the return journey.
These new trains are officially designated Class 345, and are a lot roomier than the 315s which run in service on the Shenfield line at present. Eventually they'll have nine carriages (and be the length of two football pitches) but for the time being they have seven, which ought to be enough to cope with an East London rush hour. A conscious decision was made to incorporate three sets of doors per carriage rather than two, to improve circulation, and the doors open slightly outwards after you've pressed the illuminated button to gain entry.
When transport officials say "more spacious" what they mean of course is "fewer seats". The front and rear carriages, for example, have longitudinal seats in austere banks of ten, plus a lot of standing room inbetween. One other carriage with wheelchair spaces is similarly arranged.
All the other carriages have three longitudinal seats either side of each door, then two banks of paired seats inbetween. Three of the seats at either end of the carriage tip up, providing additional wheelchair or pushchair space as necessary. Only four seats per carriage allow you to sit beside the window facing forwards.
↓↓↓¯¯↓↓↓» «↓↓↓¯¯↓↓↓» «↓↓↓¯¯↓↓↓
↑↑↑__↑↑↑» «↑↑↑__↑↑↑» «↑↑↑__↑↑↑
Each new carriage contains around 50 seats, whereas the stock being replaced had about 80, which might sound like bad news for longer-distance travellers. However this imbalance is mitigated by Crossrail trains being much longer than the old class 315s, so they actually contain more seats altogether, so all is good.
The other very obvious improvement is a step-change in on-board passenger information. The display in the centre of the carriage isn't just a dot matrix of orange lights, it's a screen on which any text or graphics can appear, allowing a greater amount of information to be seen. This means interchange stations can be displayed along with the correct colours for the various lines stopping there... and, most revolutionary, a graphic showing the next three stops can be shown. A little ant-like black train noses in from the left, and anything over and beyond the next three stations is shown by a dotted line.
One oddity - the 'National Rail' box is left-aligned whereas all the other interchange lines are centred (that's not a complaint, just an observation). A more head-scratching quirk is that the Northern line appears on the list of lines serving Liverpool Street, when clearly it doesn't. This is explained by jumping ahead 18 months to when Crossrail proper begins, because the far end of the low level platforms will connect through to Moorgate, and the Northern line does stop there. Before December 2018, however, not so.
And if you wanted reassurance that nothing ever changes, yes, this announcement is still occasionally necessary.
They're long, they're spacious and they're cool, so you'd have to be a curmudgeonly Londoner not to admire the new Class 345s. Just don't expect to find yourself on one soon, as there'll only be a couple of journeys a day to start with, then more as the new trains gradually replace the old over the summer. If your platform indicator ever flashes up the news that "the next train is formed of 7 carriages", that's a telltale sign. But eventually we'll all be riding them... to the West End, to Heathrow, to Bexley, even to Reading, as what's fresh and innovative today becomes the new normal.
It's been a very long time coming, but take your seats for Crossrail, because it'll soon be curtain up.
Earlier today, and a few weeks later than originally planned, the very first passenger carrying train for the Elizabeth line (nee Crossrail) entered service.
The Class 345 trains will along what is currently the TfL Rail line between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, but these are the same trains that will soon be calling at Bond Street tube station.
Much longer than a tube train, wider and higher, and with air conditioning, when these massive trains glide into Bond Street tube station in December 2018, it’s going to revolutionise travel through the centre of London.
Today though was a chance to see one in action, and see real passengers using them at last.
From today these trains will slowly replace the older trains along the line, initially in off-peak hours only, but by Sept/Oct time, there should be 11 of these trains on the line, and running in the rush hour as well.
In total, 66 of the 9-carriage trains have been ordered, with an option for 18 more later. The first trains will initially be seven carriages and 160 metres long to fit existing platforms at Liverpool Street.
The nine carriage, 200 metre-long trains, each are able to carry up to 1,500 people, will be introduced from May 2018, initially between Heathrow and Paddington.
Some pictures from the first train out of Liverpool Street.
Yesterday I also went climbing for the first time in years. I used to climb quite a bit when I was a teenager, and then about five years ago I tried going with emperor as a day trip from Ardgour, and found it depressingly difficult. Since then my strength to weight ratio has improved significantly, so last night I had a much easier time hauling myself off the ground. I was still distinctly conscious that the kind of strength you need in order to lift a heavy thing and then lower it five times before putting it down and having a break to recover is quite different from the kind of sustained effort you need to put in climbing a wall. I started with what was probably the easiest route on the wall, and then gradually increased in difficulty until I found a couple of routes that I made it up but just barely, and a couple more that I couldn't manage, but which are now on my target list for next time.